Alabaster, is a species of stone, the basis of which is calcareous earth. Mixed with any acid, no effervescence takes place ; in this respect it differs from marble, but in its chemical properties it resembles gypsum, selenite, and plas-ter of Paris. There are three species of alabaster: the white-shining ; the yellowish ; and the variegated, a mixture of yellow and red. The last indeed, violently ferments with aqua-fortis, and burns to a pale yellow. It was formerly brought from Egypt, but is now obtained in several parts of England.
Mr. Boyle, speaking of the first sort, says, that, if finely powdered, and set in a bason over the fire, it will, when hot, assume the appearance of a fluid, rolling in waves, yielding to the smallest touch, and emitting vapour. On the departure of the heat, it loses these properties, and again becomes a mere incoherent powder. So great is the transparency of this stone, that it has sometimes been employed for windows, and at Florence a church still receives its light through the medium of alabaster. It is found in the greatest abundance near Co-blentz, in Germany ; near Cluni, in France ; near Rome, in Italy ; and in some places of Lorrain.
Alabaster, or marble, may be cleaned by the following process : beat pumice stones to an impalpable powder, and mix it up with verjuice : let it stand for two hours, then dip into it a sponge, and rub the marble or alabaster, wash it with a linen cloth and fresh water, and dry it with clean linen rags.